Internet Protocol for Parents: Raising Your Kids in The Digital World

Once upon a time, parents were more concerned with skinned knees and bad grades than worrying that their children’s social security numbers might be commandeered by a middle-aged man named Keith in New Mexico. Oh, how the times have changed. With over two billion people using the Internet now (that’s more than a 500% increase in the last ten years, according to WFS.org), and more and more of our leisure time being spent online, parenting in the digital era isn’t something to be taken lightly.

The Internet might be a lot like the Wild West right now with identity theft outlaws, but that doesn’t mean your family should be given free rein to do as they please. It’s dangerous out there, and we’re just starting to breach the tip of the consequence-iceberg.

Start With The Basics

According to the Pew Internet Project, only about half of parents take consistent action in monitoring and patrolling their children’s Internet behavior. They may think of it as a trust issue, but it’s more of a safety issue than anything else. You wouldn’t let your child wander around a big city alone after dark. Although the Internet doesn’t pose the same physical threats, it is a giant, scary virtual city that can wreak psychological havoc on their impressionable young minds.

Teaching your kids the basics of Internet usage, and following up on monitoring is essential to their well-being. A good start is to encourage them to use it as a source of inspiration that they can apply to the real world, instead of letting their little brains wither away on social media for hours, then have nothing to show for it. If they love dinosaurs, steer them towards dino-tastic sites they can share on social media; that way, you can help them blend their positive, real-world interests into the digital vortex.

Keep One Eye Open, Keep Suspicious Tabs Closed

The dangers of strangers online are at an all-time high, and the bad news is that they’re probably only going to multiply. According to Lifelock, children are the newest and most preferred targets for identity theft, which makes ID theft education that much more important. To an identity thief, a child has no risk of former bankruptcies or bad credit, and they have almost no reason to ever check their credit score — a thief can go years without getting caught.

When your children are old enough to browse and interact on the Internet, it’s time to talk to them about the importance of cybersecurity and how to best protect themselves. They should never give out personal information to anyone online. If it’s a friend or classmate, they can wait for the information until they see them in person. Teach children how to defend against cyberbullying and the importance of reporting it. If they’re active on forums or comment threads, make sure they only use a screen name or a nickname, and let them know that even a harmless tidbit like your ZIP code and your team’s final score in the soccer match can help bad guys find out who you are and where you live. There’s no reason to be paranoid, but they should always take precautions.

By:

Sharon Manns

Sharon is a concert pianist, barista and single mom for her awesome son, Kyle. She writes about her adventures as a busy mom and how to care for special needs kids.

The article above was from a MamaBear guest blogger. The MamaBear blog is now accepting guest post from reputable bloggers on a variety of subjects. If you are interested in guest blogging for MamaBear simply contact us here.

New Phones – Happy Kids – Anxious Parents

social media tracking

I’m sure you experienced pure delight on your child’s face when they unwrapped their new phone! Now it’s time to decide what parenting measures you need to protect them while they have a new, very powerful piece of technology. Many parents turn to monitoring apps, also known as parental control apps, as well as measures to keep the child from tampering with the monitoring tools. Follow this quick and easy advice on setting up and choosing the right parenting restrictions and monitoring for a child’s new phone.

Device Restrictions:

On iPhones:

– Go to the “Settings” app on the phone and click “General”
– Scroll down to select “Restrictions”
– After clicking “Enable Restrictions” and entering a private passcode, parents can set up restrictions for usage, content, location and more.
– Switch the button off for “Deleting Apps” to prevent the child from tampering with any apps meant for monitoring, like the MamaBear App.

On Android supported devices:

– Go to the Google Play store and click on “Settings”
– Select content filtering to allow your preferred maturity level
– Lock the settings, by touching ‘Set or Change PIN’ in the Google Play “Settings” area
– Unlike device settings on Apple, you’ll need to turn to the App Store to install apps to provide similar device restrictions
– For instance, the Kid’s Place app sets what apps you want your child to be able to open, limiting device features.

Content:

On an iPhone in the restrictions area described above you can restrict content of music, movies, shows, and apps based on the child’s age.

On Android devices they allow filtering by maturity level. You can see how they define maturity level here: http://support.google.com/googleplay/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1075738
Using the MamaBear App can bring to parent’s attention use of “restricted” words deemed by the parent on Facebook and Instagram.

Usage:

Typically usage restrictions, like limiting text messaging, phone calls and data is best done by contacting the service carrier for the individual device. There are also apps available that can restrict phone usage while driving like the DriveSmart app.

Location:

For many parents a useful feature of their kid’s GPS enabled smartphone is knowing where they are and where they’ve been. The MamaBear App parenting app is invaluable in this regard, offering real time monitoring and location alerts. Parents can access all of the alerts functions through the settings menu. Driving alerts use a simple on or off interface and allows parents to choose a maximum speed. Though you may want some apps to use your child’s location to take advantage of specific features, not all apps need to know your child’s location.

On iPhone go to “Settings” then “General” and then “Privacy.” Tap on location services to see all the apps that are using the location of the phone. If it’s necessary for the app to have location services leave it on. If not, you can turn off location services for particular apps.

On Android, go to “Settings” and click “Apps.” You’ll need to click each app to see if they have location permission.

Using these simple tips will help parents keep their new smartphone users safe and give their kids some freedom with their new best friends. I promise they won’t be leaving home without it.

MamaBear is available on the Google Play store for Android phones and in the Apple App Store for iOS enabled phones and devices.

The Smart Phone Gift Giving Guide for Your Kids

android and iphones for kids

The holidays are coming.  For many families, that means new cellphones and smart phones for the kids. When choosing the best cell phones for kids, there are several qualifiers that parents can look to before making a final decision. Price and functionality tend to be the most important considerations. Finding a balance of the first two options and a phone that meets the requirements the parents and child have in mind is usually going to result in the best cell phones for kids.

Affordability is a pretty important factor in choosing the phone for a child. Finding a phone that won’t break the family’s gift budget is important. Finding a budgeted phone that works effectively and has all the features the parents feel the child needs is also important. Typically one or two year old models fall neatly into a low or median price range while still offering full functionality, making them solid choices. Phones from providers who offer a family plan for calls and information are good choices for affordability as well.

Functionality is an issue with many modern phones. Call reliability is extremely important to parents who expect to use the phone to talk to the child regularly. A phone that is going to be used as information or learning tool will need a strong network card to ensure uninterrupted data.  Strong text functionality is typically important to modern kids and parents who use texts to communicate. Reasonably modern phones offer all of this functionality while avoiding the cost of brand new models. This makes slightly older but still modern phones some of the best cell phones for kids.

Many parents find that ensuring the child has a phone with a strong GPS system is the most important factor in functionality in a new phone. This typically means a more modern phone with a functional GPS tracker is ideal. Apps like MamaBear use this modern GPS functionality to track and monitor children, not just lost and stolen phones. Modern GPS is available in many phones, both brand new from lines within a few years old. The Samsung Galaxy SII and the IPhone 4s for example are not new to market but offer full modern GPS functionality.

Another important part of functionality for a child’s phone is parental control. Restricting the ability of the child to surf the web or watch videos is important to many parents. Preventing the child from deleting or modifying controls or parenting related apps is important. In this regard newer models of iPhone do tend of offer better functionality.

The best cellphones for kids fall squarely into a few areas. Affordability, both in terms of purchase and monthly costs, is an important consideration for parents. The phone doing what it is intended for is important for both parents and children. Functionality in certain areas, like GPS and parental restriction, is typically very important to parents. Recently produced, but not brand new, models tend to meet all of these criteria effectively. When loaded with a child monitoring app like MamaBear, they can also help a parent quietly observe more and worry less.